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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Silent Ageism

Below is a scenario that illustrates the extent to which older persons can be discriminated.  I would very much like to read what you think about coping with this type of situation.

         Ben, 76-years-old, is very frustrated, he has gotten used to being ignored. But a neighborhood meeting had been called to discuss the recent break-ins.  He was tired of being treated as if he didn’t exist.  It wasn’t that he experienced hostility he was ignored with sheer indifference.  When he was talked to he was patronized since he had retired fifteen years ago from the community police force, he has gradually spent more and more time alone, especially after the loss of his wife three years ago.
         But this is too much. He is tired of being treated like a piece of furniture.  He is also tired of being patronized when people did talk to him.  He is becoming increasingly frustrated. What can he do??
          People from all over the world have visited my blogspot.  And quite a few people appear to be interested in both ageism and wisdom. It would be very interesting to me if we could engage in a discussion about what we think Ben could do
         Using your own experience it would be interesting to have an international discussion about what he could do to improve the situation.

Monday, December 26, 2011

How to Retire successfully (Quotes)

“What may be missing is a sense of purpose and some meaning to your life.”

“Many people experience a rapid decline in physical and mental health soon after retirement – often due to illness and feelings of uselessness”

“To be happy…you must stay active.?

“…Retirement is the last opportunity for individuals to reinvent themselves.”

“….. a new beginning of life.”

“It has been found that  “..,missing friends from work, being bored, and having trouble adjusting to changed adversely affects many retirees more than the lack of money or poor health.”

Experts state that. “…if you are not spending any time pursuing some activities before you retire, it is unlikely that you will spent time on these activities after you quit work.”

There is no ideal time to retire but “don’t put it off longer than you have to.”

Reasons for opting for semi-retirement:
·     You love your field of work
·     You want to feel productive
·     You can’t think of anything else to do
·     You like companionship of like-minded collegues
·     You like being around bright people
·     You like the social aspect of work
·     You love building and creating in a work environment
·     You want to get out of your spouses hair.

“Even people who plan carefully for retirement cannot fully anticipate the actual experience because it’s not just the end of employment. It’s the loss of life structure that has been central to a person’s existence.”
                  John Osborne, retired psych prof U Vic BC

“To redefine and recycle yourself in retirement, you must challenge and change certain assumptions about yourself.”

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Further Thoughts about Wisdom

There are various definitions of wisdom. They do not contradict each other but rather different aspects.  The first is by Paul Baltes a German psychologist whose broad scientific agenda was devoted to establishing and promoting the concept of wisdom

·      Good judgment and advice in important but uncertain matters of life.

The study of wisdom goes back thousands of years in the human history. For instance the Ancient Greeks saw it as:

·      An intellectual, moral, practical life, a life lived in conformity with truth and beauty

More recent psychologists have continued the journey. According to Eric Erickson wisdom is:

·      “…detached concern for life itself in the face of death itself.”

For Carl Jung thought that wisdom:

·      involves getting in touch with one’s collective unconscious; beginning around midlife

Many of wisdom’s specialists did not believe that age itself generates wisdom.

So how might we apply these ideas to our own journey thought life?
A Life Review might be helpful. The basic assumptions of a life review are:
1.   Later adulthood is not only characterized by decline and loss, it includes balance and growth.
2.   Intelligence is about the ability to adapt to, as well as shape, our environment.
3.   Our society is dominated by negative stereotypes which include:

·      Older people cannot make a contribution to society
·      Older people are withdrawn into themselves
·      Older people have lost the ability to change and adapt
·      Older people are physically weak

These ideas are what we refer to as AGEISM

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wisdom and the Light of Truth
By Me

               I march along, blinded by the light of truth
               Shining from the inside out, it guides my way
               Through Darkness

               I see so clearly within the distance
               Of my mind, that I fail to hear
               The truths of others
               And I walk alone in silence.

                Blinded by the light of truth
               I stumble and I fall
               Each step I take less certain
               Unknowing that the light I see
               Is nothing but a curtain.

            I think this is where wisdom comes in.  First we can ask what wisdom is about. Often, it is assumed that wisdom becomes a natural consequence of aging and education. However, wisdom is not the same as intelligence, according to the Max Planck Institute.  A person may know a great deal about physics but be unable to maintain personal relationships or social interest. We have opportunities to improve the ways we manage our lives, make plans for the future, and think about things we have done in the past as we age. [i]
       A working definition will be the “…power of judging rightly and following the soundest course of action, based on knowledge, experience, and understanding.”
Many people, including a lot of us older persons, believe that as we age we tend to live more and more in the past because earlier life events mean more to us.  Yet most people, regardless of their age, have fond memories. So why should older people spend more time in the past than younger people? Memories, both positive and negative are useful because they help us act in the here and now as well as future. But releasing preoccupation with the “good old days” or the imagined future helps us focus our experience on the here and now. That’s not to say that the past means nothing. We can learn from it, without living in it. 
According to Wille Nelson, an American musician and community activist who is now 76-years-old, to act wisely we must “Be here. Be present. Wherever we are, be there.” 

[i] This material was adapted from the Manual For the Assessment of Wisdom-Related Knowledge produced by The Max Plank Institute for Human Development and Education Berlin 1994

Friday, December 16, 2011

Elder Abuse in Ontario

Elder abuse is an act of omission that harms a senior or jeopardizes his or her life .
Between four and ten per cent of Ontario's seniors experience some type of abuse, which could be psychological, sexual, financial, physical, neglect, spiritual or medical.

Some stereotypes associated with abuse of older adults are:

            -Older victims are somehow responsible for their abuse or neglect

            -Older people are burdens or an inconvenience to their families

            - Abuse of one's partner stops at age 60

            - Older men are not abused by their spouse and/or children

            - Certain cultural communities are immune to abuse and neglect

What can we can do about it?

Google Alerts [] Posted Dec 1, 2011 By Doreen Barnes

Monday, December 12, 2011

Defining Ageism

         I recently came across and article that takes a deeper look at the definition of ageism.[i]  It is very interesting and will help those of you who are following this part of the blog to understand more about the topic.   I will copy several outstanding paragraphs and then leave it up to you if you wish to find the original article through your research database.
          “The concept includes the classic social psychological components in the form of; 1) cognitive (stereotypes), 2) affective (prejudice), 3) and behavioral components (discrimination), in other words, how we on the basis of the chronological age or age categorization mistakenly; 1) think of, 2) feel for, 3) and act on the aging human being. Furthermore, ageism can operate both consciously (explicitly) and unconsciously (implicitly) and it can manifest itself on three different levels; the individual (micro-level), in social networks (meso-level) and on institutional and cultural level (macro-level).”
         “Presently the research on ageism is marked by numerous, more or less diffuse, definitions of the concept of ageism. Many studies investigate both the causes and consequences of ageism without a clear definition of the phenomenon. As a consequence the area is characterized by diverging research results, which are hard to re-test and to compare. It is therefore difficult to obtain a framework on ageism.”
         I strongly advise you to go to the article upon which this blog entry is based.  Think this will give us all an opportunity to investigate our own understanding of the ageism process and develop ways to reduce it.

[i]  Iverson, Thaomas Nicolaj; Larsen, Lars; Solem, Per Erik (2009). Conceptual Analysis of Ageism, Nordic Psychology, Vol 61(3,) p. 4-22.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ageism On The Road

Seniors driving test violates human rights


I firmly believe in my mind that the treatment of all seniors over the age of 80 years to retest in a large city is discriminating, and is illegal based on the B.C. Human Rights legislation. There are no other drivers that are forced to drive in a city that they are unfamiliar with every year after they turn 80 years of age. I understand that you want safe drivers on the road, but putting seniors in financial hardship, and stressing them out by making them drive in a city that they are not familiar with, is not only putting them in harm's way, but is not based on equality, it is not right, and it is not fair.
Perhaps having their licences restricted to daytime driving or only valid in the city they are living in would be a better option. A de-graduated licensing system, not unlike the reverse situation for teens.
Putting a financial burden on them, and excessive stress like that is enough to give anyone at any age a heart attack. This is taken directly off the Public Service B.C. Human Rights Protection page.
"In B.C., it is illegal to discriminate against or harass a person because of their: race; colour; ancestry; place of origin; religion; marital status; family status; physical or mental disability; sex (includes pregnancy, breastfeeding, and sexual harassment); sexual orientation; age (19 and over); criminal conviction (in employment only); political belief (in employment only);lawful source of income (in tenancy only).
"INTENTION Discrimination does not have to be intentional to be against the law. This means that even if the person responsible for the action or comment did not "mean it," it is still discrimination according to the law. "DUTY TO ACCOMMODATE Employers, landlords, and people who provide a service to the public have a duty to accommodate the special needs of people who may require changes to the usual ways in which something is done. For example, not accommodating the special needs of a disabled person or nursing mother is a form of race; colour;; sexual orientation; age (19 and over)..."
Ageism can be outright discrimination which strips people of their rightful place in society on the basis of their age alone. Ageism can also be more nuanced. It can be externally imposed on seniors through rules and policies. And it can be internally imposed, where people try to comply with societal expectations by limiting their own possibilities.
Ageism is defined as discrimination on the basis of age that makes assumptions about capacity; removes decision-making process; ignores older person's known wishes; and treats the older adult as a child.
Lila Vaccher Duncan
© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Retirement and Subjective Well-Being

         I recently found an interesting article regarding subjective well-being and retirement.[i]   The authors assert that “retirement…unfolds over time and ecological context which can promote or distract from the quality of life.”  Research up to the time of the publication of their article supports the idea that our feelings about retirement depend on how attached we are to our work.  If we are strongly attached, as many academics are, we may feel psychological stress.  On the other hand “…retirement from the demands of a career job may reduce role strain.” 
         The authors go on to present their idea of  “A life-course ecological approach that is based on a model that looks at “development and change over the life span.”  They go on to say   “…Research shows that family, education, employment, and other experiences all help to shape the transition into retirement,” They go on to assert  that “…with increases in longevity, retirement is more of a midlife transition.”
         I think that’s the way I am looking at it. Like most of people, I need to balance my income with my social activity.  Last week I was invited to lecture about retirement at the aging class, which I designed some years ago at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Today I received a small check for the lecture. Not much but it will help with the groceries
          I also went for a thirty-minute walk to Wall Mart and purchased some colored light bulbs. When I returned home I got our ladder out of the garage and replaced the bulbs that have reached their limits over the last several years.  This is related to what I have mentioned above in that my actions were pro-active.  I was doing a self-created job, much different from lecturing but still quite satisfying.
          As I type these words the Rolling Stones remind me of the song; You can't always get what you want (no). But if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.
         Perhaps we need to change the word retirement. We could use something new. The word has a history that goes back over 400 years.  Its Synonyms are:  pullback, pullout, recession, retreat, and withdrawal.   I have labeled my blog Retirement: Third Age New Beginnings. 
Do you have any ideas?

[i] Jungmeen J.E. & Moen, P. (2001) Is Retirement Good or Bad for Subjective  Well-Being? In Current Directions in Psychological Science, Vol 10, (3),   pp. 83-86.

Friday, December 2, 2011


         I have posted more than 100 blog entries since I began the blog Retirement: Third Age New Beginnings.  In the beginning I needed a lot more understanding of how to access and reply to Comments.   For the last 5 months that has not been a problem.  I was able to change process,
         It’s wonderful to read how many people from all over the world have been reading my blog entries.  But few people to take the time to make comments.   It’s like communicating in a pitch-black room.
         While I was still teaching at Kwantlen, I enjoyed very much interaction with persons taking my Aging Class.  Most teachers do not like to drone on without feedback.  From now on if you post a comment I will reply. 
         Surging around this morning on my computer files I came upon a number of short aging scenarios.  I used them in class to facilitate discussions, giving those taking the class the opportunity to express their ideas about the topic.  I am going to do that on my blog and see if I can generate discussion and get some feed back.
         Here is the first one:  

            Bill had looked forward to retirement for the last five years.  Six months age the long awaited day finally arrived, complete with a party and farewell speeches.  For a while he was happy with his newfound freedom.  He could sleep in, and didn’t have to deal with, company meetings and the constant pressure of the large mining company that had dominated his life for the last 33 years.   Lately though, everything had changed.  His wife Betty, who had retired three years earlier was anxious to start their journey in their mobile home which had been parked in the yard for a couple of years.  Trivial arguments between them seemed to have become the norm.  Somehow he missed the hustle and bustle of his old job.  No one came to him for decisions anymore.  They were both worried about being able to exist on fixed incomes.  His body seemed to hurt in new places.  He felt isolated, alone and rudderless.   Their neighbors envied the couples leisure.  But that didn’t matter. He has come to you for advice.  What would you advise?

I eagerly await your comments

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


        Have any of you ever experienced the following treatment? In the article, cited below, the authors describe a way of talking described as “elderspeak.”  It refers to “ …a specialized speech register resembling baby talk in addressing older adults.” This form of speech uses few clauses, shorter phrases, more filler phrases (e.g., “like,” “you know”), words with fewer syllables, slower speech, and longer pauses.  Elderspeak also includes the use of words like “dearie”, “cutie” and “sweetie.”
         Stereotyping creates the conditions for elderspeack.  The speaker assumes that the older person has low mental ability or some other impairment. Elderspeak has a negative effect on the older person; it creates low self-esteem, it reduces a person’s ability to communicate effectively, it decreases the quality of interaction, and it reduces the older person’s sense of control.   Now the question is, what can we do about it? I would like you to respond to this information so we can discuss it further.   


[i]  Thorton, R. & Light L.L. (2006).  “Language & Comprehension and Production in             Normal Aging , Handbook of the Psychology of Aging, 6th ed.  IN Aging and             Society: A Canadian Perspective, 6th Ed. P.6

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ageist Humour

 This material was discovered and printed by one of the most outstanding gerontologists, Dr. Erdman Palmore[i]

·      You’ve reached old age when all you exercise is caution

·      On the front: Nobody should call you an old codger
·      Inside: A sexy old codger would be more accurate

·      There’s a similarity between babies and old men—both fall asleep over there bottles

·      We don’t count an man’s years until he has nothing else to count

·      An old maid is a woman who has missed the opportunity for getting divorced.

·      Old lady to a friend:  “ I had a lot of trouble last night. A man kept banging on my door.
·      Friend:  “Why didn’t you open it?”
·      Answer: “What and let him out?”

·      Time may be a great healer, but he certainly is no beauty specialist

·      One man asks another, “What did she have done?”         Answer: “I don’t know but whatever it was, I sure was wrinkled.

·      A man is only as old as the woman he feels.

·      Birthday card front:  The trouble with being our age, by the time our ship comes in…..    Inside: our piers are collapsed.

·      The secret of living to be a 100 becomes less attractive as you get older

·      At a certain age some people’s minds close up:  they live on an old intellectual fat.

·      An old man approached his doctor and said: “I’m slowly going nuts over women, I there any way I can speed it up?

·      A gerontologist was lecturing about aging processes:  “There are three signs of aging:  First there is memory…(pause)…and I’ve forgotten the other two.

·      Old age is an incurable disease

·      Old man: “Why don’t you tell me when you’re having an orgasm?                                                                                  Wife: “ I would but you’re never there.”




[i] Jokes take from Palmore E.B. (1990). Ageism positive and negative  Springer Publishing Company, New York, NY.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Satisfaction with Later LIfe

         I look outside as winter approaches and think about how satisfied I am with life.  I’m seventy-two with quite a bit to do. I fired up the computer and came across a tool that may be useful to you in examining you life satisfaction.[i]   I think it might be useful to you.
         Below are five statements that you may agree or disagree with. Using the 1-7 scale below, indicate your agreement with each item by connecting the appropriate number for each statement. It will be valuable to you if you are open and honest with your responding. After all you will be the only person who see’s the results.
·      7 – Strongly agree
·      6 – Agree
·      5 – Slightly Agree
·      4 – Neither Agree nor disagree
·      3 – Slightly disagree
·      2 – Disagree
·      1 -  Strongly disagree

Then consider what results indicate and see if you agree
·      31 – 35  Extremely satisfied
·      26 – 30  Satisfied
·      21 – 28  Slightly satisfied
·      20          Neutral
·      15 – 19  Slightly satisfied
·      10 – 14  Dissatisfied
·       5 -   9    Extremely dissatisfied

Time marches on.

[i]  J. Corrigan (2000). Satisfaction with life scale, The Center for outcome measurement in Brain Injury, (accessed June, 18,2011)   *Note: This citation is for the COMBI web material. Dr. Corrigan is not the scale author for the SWLS

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Journey into a Leisure World

         Last August 31st I formally retired from Kwantlen Polytech University.  My life has taken a different turn. Even though I was only teaching two courses per term over the last several years I have, during the past two months, begun to explore the “real” meaning of leisure activities’
         If you look back over my blog entries you will see one of my new activities, acrylic painting. Recently I have been struggling with painting a picture of my mother, who’s now 95, in her earlier years.
What a task; maybe I need to stick with landscape pictures. In any case another of my “leisure” activities is creating entries onto my blogspot.
         Last Monday night I had the honor of stepping in for the person who is currently teaching the ageing class. What a joy it was to return to the classroom! It was leisure for sure, In any case, I d decided to look around in my personal library to see what I could find and I found some material in the book cited at the bottom of this post,[i]
         There is a small section in the book that focuses on Retirement Leisure.  The author asserts, “Individuals select leisure activities to fit their personal identity (how they define themselves) and their social identity (how they believe they are defined by others)
         When I was teaching I saw myself as a type of “independent contractor.” There are rules but there is a lot of freedom in decision-making. I decided what I would say and the structure of the evening, which included student group presentations.
         But now back to the bigger picture, my teaching is concentrated on the creation of blog entries. I now have 148 posts.
         “There is no universally accepted definition of leisure, partly because experiences and meanings are extremely personal and diverse.”    The author provides 18 elements that help define leisure. Take a look at them and decide which ones work best for you.
·      A social context for establishing and developing primary social relationships.
·      A state of mind, attitude or being
·      Non-work
·      Freedom of choice in selecting activities
·      Free or discretionary time
·      Relaxation and diversion from work and personal maintenance activities.
·      Playfulness or play
·      Voluntary activity
·      Expressive activities, in which there is internal satisfaction and an emphasis on the process rather than on the end result or product.
·      Instrumental activities, which offer external rewards and which have an end product or outcome as a goal.
·      Spontaneity
·      Utilitarian and meaningful activities.
·      Active and passive activities
·      Social (group) or individual (solitary) activities
·      Expensive or inexpensive activities
·      Intellectual (that is cognitive), social, or physical activities
·      Intrinsic or extrinsic rewards
·      Creativity
·      High culture or mass culture

         I must stop here because I need to take a shower and get ready from my visit to local Chamber of Commerce dinner as a representative of the Langley Seniors Centre Board.

[i] B.D. McPherson,(2004). Aging as a Social Process: Canadian Perspectives, Oxford             University Press

Friday, November 11, 2011

Content of Age-Based Stereotypes(1)

Clusters of age based stereotypes reflect the ageist attitudes, (some
positive) such as the notion that older aged adults are less competent
the younger adults or on the other hand, wiser. Studies also suggest
the belief that as we age, we are less independent and strong. We are
also seen as less attractive. Hence we often see commercials promising
that the item for sale will help reduce wrinkles. “ Consider the number of
terms that are used for older adults that reflect unattractiveness, such as
crone, goat, hag, witch, withered, and wrinkled (Palmore, 1990)
For those of you who are interested in ageism the items are
on Table 9.3, p. 376, in the book listed below. There are five factors
considered characteristics of aging

Health/Physical Appearance
Get upset easily
Have health problems
Are set in their ways
Talk to themselves
Never fully recover from illness
Not optimistic
Walk slowly
Physically inactive
Think about the good old days
Active outside home
Talks slowly
Gives good advice
Has lots of friends
Hard of hearing
Interesting to meet
Good companion
Complains  a lot
Has hobbies

 i Whitney,B.E.& Kite M.E. (2006). The Psychology of Prejudice and
Descrimination, Thomson, Wadsworth, For more go to

Monday, November 7, 2011

An Apology

Over the past year I have posted over 80 times and in many instances you have made a comment which I was unable to respond to.  I think I have it fixed, your comment will show up on my email and I will check it regularly.  I am very interested in your ideas. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Patterns of Ageism

Until recently, in Canada, there has not been much research
documenting the extent of prejudice towards older persons. Robert
Butler (1969) first coined the term ageism and defined it as “..another
form of bigotry” and “a process of systematic stereotyping and
discrimination against people who are old.”
Ageism is different from the other types of “ism” such as sexism
and racism because, unlike them, ageism, in general may affect
everyone or at least everyone who lives long enough” says Erdmann
Palmore who indicates although there are positive and negative
forms of ageism, in general is has negative consequences to seniors.
Some demographic factors are: Level of education, Ethnicity,
Employment and/or Type of Pension, Distance of closest relative,
neighbor, Marital status, Organizational Membership, Level of
volunteering, Attitudes toward Local and Provincial Governments
Below are three figures indicating Ageism Relationships

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

 Attitudes Toward Old People Scale[i]

         Many visitors to this blog site are very interested in ageism. The following scale for assessing attitudes toward old people was published in 1961; fifty years ago, The research article discusses relationships found between such attitudes and personality variables. Three samples of college undergraduates served as subjects… a scale containing items making unfavorable reference to old people and a scale containing matched favorably worded items was constructed. Only the sentences are included here but the original article includes a scoring procedure
         Unfavorable attitudes toward old people were associated with feelings of anomie, and with negative dispositions toward ethnic minorities as well as a variety of physically disabled groups. A (From Psyc Abstracts 36:01:3GD44K.)

The Scale
1.   The elderly have the same faults as anybody else
2.   The elderlys’ accounts of their past experiences are interesting
3.   Most elderly keep a clean home
4.   Most elderly seem to be quite clean in their personal appearance.
5.   Most elderly would work as long as possible rather than be            dependent.
6.   People grow wiser with the coming of old age.
7.   Most elderly are very different from one another.
8.   Most elderly are cheerful, agreeable and good humored.
9.   Most elderly respect the privacy of others
10. Most elderly are very relaxing to be with.
11. A nice residential neighborhood has a number of elderly living in it.
12. Most elderly are as easy to understand as young people.
13. Most elderly can adjust when the situation demands it.
14. The elderly have too little power in business and politics.
15. Most elderly need no more love and reassurance than anybody else.
16. It would be better if most elderly lived in residential units that also                 housed younger people.
17. The elderly seldom complain about the behavior of younger people.
18. It is foolish to claim that wisdom comes with old age,
19. Most elderly bore others by talking about the good old days.
20. Most elderly send to much time prying into the affairs of others.
21. Most elderly let their homes become shabby and unattractive
22. If the elderly expect to be liked, the should eliminate their irritating       faults.

[i] Attitudes toward old people: The development of a scale and an examination of   correlates. Kogan, N. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, Vol 62(1),
            Jan 1961, 44-54. doi: 10.1037/h0048053